Amid the recent 'victories' over Pakistan in other fields, India is set to renew rivalry with the arch-rivals in cricket at the Champions Trophy in Edgbaston on Sunday, June 4. It is after over a year that the two teams will be locking horns for supremacy on the 22 yards and the country's cricket-lovers are all expecting their team to continue with their dominance over the opponents in green.
This match will be the fourth between India and Pakistan in men's domain the era of Narendra Modi and to the utter satisfaction of 'Modified India', India have beaten Pakistan on all three occasions played so far – once in a 50-over match and twice in T20. Each of those wins came in big events like ICC World Cup, Asia Cup and World T20 and cemented the Indian fans' belief that India now holds a permanent lead over the Pakistanis and the outcome of the June 4 game will be no different.
The winner on the 22 yards is not the concern of this piece. Let the best team win. The interesting part to see is that which of the two lots that exist in India will adapt the best to the eventual outcome of the game: the hyper-nationalists or the moderate nationalists?
The hyper-nationalists will look for more boosting dose
The game is nothing less than an occasion to prove the 'more genuine love' for the country and the hyper-nationalists will go all-out with their "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" agenda in case India decimate Pakistan. In fact, an Indian win could see the secularists or 'moderate lovers' of the country struggling to compete with the celebration that the hyper-nationalists will come up with.
India versus Pakistan in men's cricket in Narendra Modi era:
- February 15, 2015: India beat Pakistan by 76 runs in ICC World Cup in Adelaide
- February 27, 2016: India beat Pak by 5 wickets in Asia Cup in Mirpur
- March 19, 2016: India beat Pak by 6 wickets in World T20 in Kolkata
If one doesn't celebrate excessively an Indian victory over Pakistan, he/she is very likely to be dubbed as an "anti-national". So, those who still feel Modi hasn't done India any good and is only sowing seeds of communal disaster, Kohli's men emerging victorious and the still-more-boosted nationalism in the aftermath could be uncomfortable. When it comes to Pakistan, even a petty game is a war, remember that.
If Pakistan win, the hyper-nationalists may find it earth-shattering
On the other side, if Pakistan win, then the bhakts could find it earth-shattering. Amid the surgical strikes, Kulbhushan row, etc. etc., a loss in cricket could be no less than devastating for those who believe Modi is on his way to teach Pakistan the lesson of their life since 1971.
Since India haven't lost a single cricket match to Pakistan after Modi assumed office, any negative experience on that front is unknown to the bolstered nationalists. The moderate nationalists might still find it difficult to make themselves relevant for it they try to preach a sporting spirit, they are still likely to end up as "anti-nationals".
June 4 will be a more interesting date for India's polarised domestic scenario. If India win, the hyper-nationalist media, political camps and their loyalists will explode the ceiling of all sanity. But if it happens to be the opposite, then the floor might cave in.
This is a new India.